The Karpeles Manuscript Library
May 1, 2013 to August 28, 2013
The Boy Scouts Exhibit
In 1907, after learning that his military textbook "Aids to Scouting" (1899) was being used for training boys in woodcraft,, British school officials asked Baden-Powell to adapt his program for boys. After much preparation, he conducted the first Boy Scout camp on Brownsea Island in 1907. The following year he published "Scouting for Boys", a book that introduced the Scout's Oath, the Scout Law, and the official motto, "Be Prepared." Some qualities for Boy Scouts outlined in the book include obedience, honor, thrift, and a willingness to help others. Typical scouting activities are camping, nature study, and first aid training.
In the United States the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) had been running camps for boys since 1884. In 1902 Ernest Thompson Seton founded the Tribe of Woodcraft Indians as an organization for boys. Three years later Daniel Carter Beard started a similar society called the Sons of Daniel Boone. These two groups, along with the YMCA camps, laid the foundation on which the Boy Scout movement developed in the United States in conjunction with Baden-Powell's work in England. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910. On June 15, 1916, Congress granted a charter to the organization. In England the Boy Scouts had been formally started on Jan. 24, 1908.
The scouting program in the United States has three phases: Cub Scouting is for boys 8 through 10 years old; Boy Scouts are 11 through 15 years of age; and
Explorer Scouts are 15 through 20. Cub Scouts are organized into dens of seven or eight boys, and local dens make up one scout pack. Boy Scouts are organized into patrols, and patrols are parts of troops. Each troop is headed by a scoutmaster. Reversing a longstanding policy, the BSA in 1988 allowed women to be scoutmasters.
Each Scout, by meeting specific requirements, advances through grades called Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. A First Class Scout may earn merit badges to qualify as a Star Scout, Life Scout, and Eagle Scout. There are other awards given for outstanding achievements. Eagle palms are given for merit badges earned beyond the Eagle requirements. The Order of the Arrow is a national brotherhood of Scout campers. The Medal of Merit and the Honor Medal are awarded by scouting's National Court of Honor. The Medal of Merit is presented for outstanding acts of service. Scouting's highest award, the Medal of Honor, is bestowed upon Scouts who save, or attempt to save, lives at the risk of their own.
More than 10 million boys and men throughout the world participate in the movement. Scouts from many nations meet, usually every four years, in a world jamboree. At these gatherings as many as 50,000 Scouts set up camp, demonstrate woodcraft skills, and work for better international understanding. The first world jamboree was held in England in 1920. National jamborees are held between the international events.
The Great Depression Exhibit
Documents in this exhibit evoke a kind of reverse deja vu.
Ten years after the stock market collapse that set off the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover, on whose presidential watch the calamity occurred, was still railing against FDR's radical program to get the nation back on viable economic footing.
In 1939, in a letter to radio newsman Lowell Thomas, Hoover begs off appearing on Thomas's broadcast for the reason, he writes, that "I am up to my eyes organizing and fighting the New Deal."
Hoover didn't get it, right from the start. In early September 1929, the stock market reached its highest peak ever thus far, but then began a steady decline until October 29, 1929, when the bottom dropped out. The next day, October 30, Hoover declared, "The fundamental business of the country - is on a sound and prosperous basis."
Coincidentally (or not), a few weeks later, Hoover proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. In the proclamation, dated November 5, 1929, he claimed that "God has greatly blessed us as a nation in the year now drawing to a close. Both capital and labor have enjoyed an exceptional prosperity."
The Hoover documents share display space with letters from Roosevelt regarding some of the New Deal programs, including the Works Progress Administration, or WPA.
The purpose of the WPA was to create jobs by funding public work projects. The projects included construction of 125,000 public buildings and related facilities, and 650,000 miles of roadways, but also many arts projects for visual artists, writers, musicians, and actors. Still, millions of Americans remained jobless, until World War II definitively solved the national unemployment problem.
Nor did Hoover seem to get much of a message from the 1932 national election, which swept him out of office and FDR in. Shortly after the election, he wrote to a campaign worker that the results should not be taken "as a discouragement to the Republican Party, but as a challenge to continued zealous and aggressive work on behalf of its sound and enduring principles."
In a speech from 1938 on "The Economic Consequences of the New Deal," Hoover said: "Last evening Mr. Roosevelt spoke highly of his success in creating economic stability, prosperity, and security for the average man. Naturally he did not mention the 11 million unemployed - and some other instabilities and insecurities" such as low prices for farm products, which were causing farmers to burn some of their crops in an effort to raise prices.
"He probably thought I could be relied on to supply those omissions tonight," Hoover said. "I will do that-". "I shall show that the consequences of New Deal morals, their undermining of representative government, and their economic policies not only cancel out the humanitarian objectives which [the New Deal] profess - but - undermine all hope for progress in standards of living for all our people."